Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Week In Tickets: 18 October 2010 to 24 October 2010

Shortish week, but not a bad one:

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: The Kovak Box (24 October 2010, Jay's Living Room, Amazon VOD)

This may very well be the first time video on demand has popped up on TWIT, which some folks may find as odd. It's not, really - given how many movies I watch, it's not always easy to fit more movies in, let alone different ways to watch movies. But, after seeing Cell 211, I wanted to see The Kovak Box.

Well, I remembered my VHS screener from 2006 (I ask for screeners every year, but am often terrible about watching them, even when my living-room technology doesn't just ignore the things). Now, folks, have any of you watched VHS recently? Now, admittedly, the last time I did, it was on a smaller television, but ye gods, how in the world did we put up with that for decades?

My VCR wasn't even hooked up anymore; I had to find an outlet and it was nuts trying to get it to stop trying to tune into cable that wasn't even hooked up. Then, about ten minutes in, it started blinking, locking up, and half-ejecting before finally just giving up. I think it more or less died of shock at being used.

The VOD looks a lot better, but getting it on the TV is kind of a hassle. I didn't drop a fair amount on my home theater to watching movies on my laptop screen, but the connections between the computer and T aren't perfect. The SlingCatcher, I've decided, is more or less worthless, but I've got a cheap DisplayPort to HDMI cable; unfortunately, it doesn't pass sound, and it took me a while to put headphones on rather than have the computer in my lap so the sound didn't seem to be coming from off to my left. I'm going to have to find a USB device to get 5.1 sound out, or maybe a headphone-to-stereo cable from monoprice.

It eventually did the job. I don't know that I'll be doing this a lot for movies versus TV, but it's nice to know, especially for smaller movies, they can be just a few bucks away.

My Dog Tulip

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 19 October 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #7 (first-run)

There have been many "a boy and his dog" movies, even many that featured somewhat older boys, but I have trouble remembering many that wax so rhapsodic about the downright messy parts of pet ownership as My Dog Tulip. Via Christopher Plummer's voice and the animation of Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, we learn a great deal about the elimination habits of J.R. Ackerley's beloved Alsatian, as well as his attempts to breed her (quaintly described as "marrying" her), most likely much more than we really want to know.

Not that My Dog Tulip should be described as a "warts and all" movie. It's an enormously affectionate story of an older bachelor who finds true contentment for the first time with a dog that is large, loud, and difficult; Ackerley comes across as a true curmudgeon, as difficult in his own way as his pet. The pair don't quite make up for each other's faults, but do create a pairing that works, and earns the audience's affection.

The animation, though created entirely without paper and cels, has a pleasantly handmade feel, although occasionally the sketchy look, occasionally-sparse backgrounds, and limited animation can come across as trying a little too hard (there's having a style, and there's looking cheap). The end result is charming, but can often feel like it was more satisfying to its creators than its audience.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 20 October 2010 at the Brattle Theatre (Recent [Cult!] Raves)

Even though the original Predator is not a particular favorite of mine (I didn't see it until fairly recently, and it seemed kind of unpolished compared to big action movies and hollow compared to ground-level ones), I had hopes for this one. It's got a quality ensemble cast, Robert Rodriguez is in charge and knows a little something about pulp fun, and director Nimrod Antal is coming off two movies (Vacancy and Armored) where he took a standard-issue plot and a good cast and made something better than you might expect.

Of course, when you start to expect better than you might expect, you'll occasionally be disappointed by only getting what you should have expected. That's what happens here. Basically, Antal, Rodriguez, and writers Alex Litvak & Michael Finch make more Predator. Which isn't really a bad thing; people still dig that first movie twenty-five years later, and recapturing that vibe probably counts more as success than failure. The movie is not for the folks like me who don't find the Predator's design awesome or didn't really dig the one-note testosterone fest. This one feels like it could have been a little more - the idea that the humans brought to the "game preserve" to be hunted are predators in their own right is a neat hook, as is the idea that they may find out more about these humanoids by being on their own turf - but just settles for being more Predator.

My Dog TulipPredatorsCell 211

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